Good evening Athletics Nation! It's January so we mostly are jumping on whatever news comes out about the Oakland A's, but here are a few little bits and pieces that have fallen through the cracks over the last week.
Was Fernando Abad tipping his pitches?
An interesting tweet came out Wednesday from LaVelle E. Neal III, a Twins insider for the Star Tribune.
Twins scouts think Abad was tipping his pitches last year, and that they can help him. @SethTweets— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) January 21, 2016
I guess it doesn't really matter now, since Abad is no longer a member of the A's. He's Minnesota's problem now, for better or worse, so if he figures out his struggles and returns to his old form then it doesn't help Oakland at all. But if you're still interested in finding answers for why last year's bullpen went so tragically wrong, well, perhaps this could be one piece of the puzzle. If true, then it's a bummer that the A's couldn't notice and/or fix the problem, but I wouldn't read too much into it.
Is Andrew Lambo the next Brandon Moss?
This comparison has been brought up from time to time here on AN, but John Hickey goes through the details in this this post for Inside the A's. A snippet:
Lambo, like Moss a left-handed hitting corner outfielder a year younger than Moss when he arrived, has consistent minor league power including 32 homers in 647 at-bats at Triple-A before spending 2015 with the Pirates. He never got untracked, went 1-for-25, mostly as a pinch-hitter, before being sidelined by plantar fasciitis, not playing after May 3.
He's a left/right fielder by trade who has played some center field in the minors, but he made the jump to first base last year because that's where the outfield-heavy Pirates had an opening.
Lambo's career line in AAA: .267/.336/.495, 32 HR, 22.4% Ks, in 723 plate appearances
Henderson Alvarez literally throws a ball
This is what news looks like in January. Don't blame me, I didn't invent January. I could do without it and skip straight from December to February, if you asked me. But here we are, so let's make the most of it.
Henderson Alvarez tore something in his shoulder last year and barely pitched -- a couple dozen innings total, plus another dozen in the minors. The injury required surgery, and he's not expected to be ready for the start of the season. Heck, with shoulders, there's always the chance that a guy never comes back at all.
So, without further ado, here is Alvarez literally throwing a ball. Twice!
He also catches it once in between throws, but if we're being honest that's a pretty rudimentary skill and not cause for much celebration. But he threw it, and his arm didn't fall off! And then he threw it again!
I'm sorry, January wasn't my idea. I voted to cancel it this year. Blame this guy.
Matt Chapman named best defensive 3B in MiLB
MLB Pipeline is part of the prospect coverage on MLB.com, and on Monday Jonathan Mayo introduced the 2016 All-Defense Prospect Team. Check out the hot corner!
We already know about Chapman's defensive prowess (and cannon arm) here at Athletics Nation, but it's nice to see him get this kind of recognition on a national level from someone who isn't biased by Oakland fandom. Most of us have rarely-if-ever seen these prospects play, so all we have to go on is the opinions of folks like Mayo and the Pipeline staff. Here's the brief writeup from the full article:
Finding guys who profile at the hot corner offensively while showing they can stick there defensively is tough. Chapman has the glove part down. He has one of the strongest infield arms in the Minors, and his hands and feet will work very well at third long-term.
Sean Manaea ranked No. 8 LHP prospect in baseball
Another ranking from MLB Pipeline. This time, they did a list of the top left-handed pitchers in MiLB, and A's prospect Sean Manaea comes in eighth. Topping the list is Julio Urias of the Dodgers, and you might also recognize Steven Matz (No. 3) from the Mets' World Series rotation. Sean Newcomb (No. 4) is one of the guys the Angels gave up for Andrelton Simmons. Here's the writeup on Manaea:
The big Indiana State product could've been the top pick in the 2013 Draft, but he slid because of injury concerns. Manaea missed the first half of 2015 with an unrelated injury, but he pitched his way to Double-A and was sent to the A's from the Royals in the Ben Zobrist Trade Deadline deal. He's a mid-rotation workhorse, at the very least.
Rangel Ravelo places 3rd in MVP voting in Venezuela
We already know about Ravelo's monster season in the Venezuelan Winter League, and last week we learned that he'd won the Productor Del Año award. However, we weren't sure exactly what that award was, other than the literal translation Producer of the Year. It turns out it's probably more of a Hank Aaron Award (best hitter), because there is a separate MVP award and Ravelo didn't win it.
The honors went to Alex Cabrera, a 44-year-old who owns 357 career homers in the Japanese League. Cabrera also won the award two years ago in 2013, as well as once more back in 1997. But before you use his success to scoff at the quality of the league, consider that in between Cabrera's trophies Odubel Herrera won in 2014; Herrera went on to post nearly 4 WAR in MLB last season as a rookie for the Phillies. Go back to 2011, and the MVP was Gregor Blanco, who has provided 6.7 bWAR (or 9.5 fWAR) to the Giants over the last four years. There are legit players in the LVBP, and it's considered something around a Triple-A equivalent.
Doolittle gnome unveiled
We have an early contender for best stadium giveaway of the season.
Got any more links or tweets? Dump 'em in the comments!